Monday, August 17, 2009

Woodstock BOFPC to meet Wed.

A Special Meeting of the Woodstock Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC) has been announced for Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 5:00PM in City Council chambers at the Woodstock City Hall.

Such meetings must be announced at least 48 hours in advance.

An Executive Session is listed as Item III. Closed sessions are permitted by law to be held to discuss the "appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee to determine its validity."

The Board cannot make decisions in private. In private it can discuss and consider only. Any decision must be made by individual vote after the Board returns to open session, and the vote must be upon proper motion by a member of that Board.

The City announced the July 21, 2009, on City Hall stationery, which was proper because the Board is a public body of the City and not of the Police Department; however, the announcement of this meeting was made on "Police Department" stationery. Why did announcements revert to P.D. stationery?

For the public to have strong confidence in its police department, the Department must be on the side of the citizens. If a Department ever receives a complaint from a citizen about one of its officers, it must investigate it immediately, thoroughly and completely. The citizens of a community (for example, Woodstock) must be able to rely on its police chief and its City officials to be thorough and not to try to hush things up.

Should a citizen have a complaint against an officer, he or she must be able to trust that the complaint will be investigated and, if substantiated, followed quickly by appropriate disciplinary action. The City, as the employer, has the legal responsibility to halt anything improper that is going on between an employee and a member of the community.

What the member of the community must remember is that the employees and legal counsel for the City work for the City. And, while the City is the People, the actuality may be that City will "close ranks" and recognize a need to defend itself. This puts the City in a very delicate position where it cannot serve two masters.

Wednesday's BOFPC meeting should be more than "interesting."

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